SPOT SCOOP: Statement from BenCab on the National Artist Brouhaha

SPOT.ph spoke to a sad and alarmed 2006 National Artist for Visual Arts BenCab over the phone this morning.

SPOT.ph spoke to a sad and alarmed 2006 National Artist for Visual Arts Ben Cabrera (or BenCab) over the phone this morning. Here's what he said:

2006 National Artist for Visual Arts BenCab. Photo by Erwin Obcemea
2006 National Artist for Visual Arts BenCab. Photo by Erwin Obcemea


"I feel bad. It's a mockery of the system. They might as well just appoint [their own choices] and not go through the whole process. I will boycott the awards. I will not march. I will not mention any names but we heard that there was one very influential person who helped manipulate the results.

Sabi nga ng mga artists, it won't be a "parangal" kundi "pagdadalamhati." It's sad. The awards have been debased. One can just lobby for anyone. Hindi na 'yung peers ang nag-de-decide. Our opinion doesn't mean anything.

There used to be prestige. Well since the presidency of Ramos there has been an understanding that the President can add one choice… there was Carlos Quirino (historical literature) , Alejandro '' Anding ' Roces (literature) , Abdulmari Asia Imao (visual arts) But this time GMA added four!

About these four, they didn't go through the deliberation, there was no presentation. There are 22 of us National Artists. We were bypassed. It was a sudden announcement just before the President left for the US. The results were supposed to be announced before June 12. We were asking. 'Why the delay?'

My message to my fellow artists: We should make a statement, particularly the writers who are more articulate. Why should it be like this?

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Now everybody can be a National Artist. They keep adding categories: Landscape Art, Fashion Design, what's next, hairdressers? They should stick to the seven arts: Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts, and Architecture and Allied Arts.

Carlo J. Caparas won the award for visual arts because he draws comics daw. They wanted to put him in Literature because he writes scripts daw.

(According to a comment on SPOT by 'Gerry Alanguilan', comic book writer, licensed architect and illsutrator for a variety of comics including Wolverine, X-men and own creations Timawa and Humanis Rex!: "The puzzling thing is, CJC is NOT an illustrator. He has never drawn any of this comic book stories, least of all his most popular creations. Panday and Pieta were drawn by Steve Gan. Bakekang was drawn by Mar Santana. How can someone who is NOT a visual artist get the National Artist title for Visual Arts?

It is illogical, it is ridiculous, and it is insulting to every visual artist out there, including those who deserve it so much more, like Francisco V. Coching and Larry Alcala, who should have been awarded this title long ago."–Ed.)

***BenCab , Arturo Luz and Napoleon Abueva have decided to boycott the awards ceremony on (according to NCCA Public Affairs, no date has been announced yet.) They will continue their dialogue tonight at the farewell dinner for CCP president Nes Jardin.

Keep logged on to SPOT.ph for continuing developments on this story.

To read about the National Artist "Dagdag Bawas" Brouhaha click here.

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